Venezuela gold, electricity, aluminum, steel news

Eiffel bridge over Cuyuní River, Bolivar State, Venezuela. River is this color in large part because of uncontrolled "artesanal" mining, in which individuals blast the ground to extract gold dust and nuggets, washing away the red tropical soils.

I didn’t note it on Friday but Venezuela changed its rules for sales of gold by legitimate producers. Bloomberg covered the story and its implications for Rusoro Mining here. One tidbit that goes unsaid is that better terms for legal producers could, maybe, in time, cause corporate mining to overtake the Hobbesian horror known as artesenal mining. Venezuela’s central bank estimates that 60 percent of the country’s gold is channeled into the legal market within Venezuela. The rest is smuggled to Guyana, Brazil and Colombia, for who knows what sort of end.

Speaking of the Bolivarian Republic, Guri dam was 82% full on Friday at 8 a.m., up from 19% three months earlier. The rains have been well above average (as someone predicted in his first blog post) and recuperation has been aided by continued low generation in the power plants. Sidor, the country’s biggest steel mill, is taking its time to fire up furnaces after shutting half its production to save electricity. Venalum, the biggest copper aluminum smelter, is supposed to get about a fifth of its shuttered production back on line this year, with a goal of getting back to full production by the end of 2012, according to a person familiar with the plans. This helps save energy, albeit at the cost of primary economic output. So it goes.

Corrected Aug 16 to show that Industria Venezolana de Aluminio, or Venalum, processes aluminum. Not copper. Thanks to eagle-eyed reader Juan Cristobal for bringing me back to reality.

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3 thoughts on “Venezuela gold, electricity, aluminum, steel news

  1. Juan Cristobal

    In spite of being in the midst of a “historical drought,” Guri dam sure has recovered nicely.

    One thing: I wasn’t aware Venalum was a copper smelter. Don’t you mean bauxite?

  2. sapitosetty Post author

    Yup, the drought ended. El Niño is often followed by a wet year in Venezuela, the only surprise was that the El Niño effect lasted so long. (Sorry, not going to engage the irony — I think we all know that the power shortages involved much more than drought.)

    And yes. Industria Venezolana de Aluminio processes alumina into aluminum. I am obviously suffering from copper poisoning here in Santiago.

  3. Kepler

    Guayana’s environment is being raped for decades now thanks to the milicos.
    Nothing will improve as long as milicos rule Venezuela, whether you have a group of garimperos or Canadian miners. The milicos have rule Venezuela directly or indirectly since the very start.
    Only when different groups come to check and counter-check environment protection will we start seeing some progress there.

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